We have been talking to our contacts inside broadcasting companies about the newest media changes that are on their way. Now, it’s time to share them with you.
In less that two weeks, Detroit joins the growing list of markets where radio listening will be measured differently. Instead of asking ratings participants to record what they listen to in a diary, they will now wear an Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM), about the size of a pager, that keeps track of what they are hearing through new technology.
There’s no question that written diaries are an outdated and inaccurate measurement of media habits. And all “traditional media” are competiting with the precise audience data the Internet can offer. So, along the lines of the information that comes from TV households with Nielsen’s Local People Meters (LPMs), radio ratings in the PPM environment will be different from what we have seen for many years with diaries. In short – content will be king. Like we have seen in TV, branding and history won’t be able to sustain a station’s ratings.
What does this mean to the listener? Some of your favorite stations will be sounding different in the coming months. Without question – format changes are imminent, our inside contacts tell us. Based on other PPM markets, certain formats perform better than others in the PPM enviornment. So, broadcasters will adapt accordingly. Also, programmers will be rearranging commercial positions, tweaking playlists and strategizing about when personalities will be talking, all to maximize ratings that reflect more about hearing than habits.
In short, it means more changes and a new playbook for all of us who work with radio stations. Ratings reports will also be issued monthly, instead of quarterly, so more changes could happen more often.
We’ll keep you posted on what’s happening and provide some perspective along the way.